New XpertHR research finds that most employers forecast an increase in the number of employment tribunal claims following the April increase in the unfair dismissal qualifying period from one to two years.

More than half (51.2%)* of those responding predict that the overall number of claims will increase because the amount of claims under other headings for which there is no service requirement (for example, discrimination) will increase.

Around one respondent in six (17.2%) believes that the number of claims brought under automatically unfair grounds will increase. Just one in five (21.9%) believe the number of claims will decrease.

“If this forecast is borne out, the Government’s legislative change – designed to help reduce the number of employment tribunal claims – could prove to be counter-productive,” says Rachel Suff, XpertHR author of the report.

Employment tribunal claims are costly, time consuming and usually prompt the end of the employment relationship between employer and employee. Despite the impact that even one tribunal claim can have on an organisation, six employers in 10 (59%) do not have a procedure in place for dealing with claims.

Many employers try to settle claims out of court. In a reflection of the burden that dealing with a claim can impose on an employer, more than four employers in 10 (42.2%) told XpertHR that “we make every effort to settle employment tribunal claims out of court, even if we feel we have a strong case.”

Respondents told us that the single most important reason that tribunal judgments have gone against their organisation is because of the role of the line manager. To address this, more than four employers in 10 (42.4%) have provided training to line managers in people management skills.

Just because an employee submits an ET1 form does not mean that the case will proceed to a full hearing. According to our findings, an average of 5.4 claims per employer over a two-year period were disposed of – for example, settled, withdrawn or struck out – prior to a final tribunal judgement.

Almost two employers in three (63.8%) have had employment tribunal claims brought against them over the past two years.